We have a dream… celebrating MLK weekend in Atlanta

I returned from my second workshop in Atlanta on Martin Luther King Day, January 19, 2015. What a great workshop – 9 funny, smart, hard-working and thoughtful kids, great parents eager to use the letterboards with their kids and a growing community of parents, grandparents, sibs, teachers, Floortimers, flexible ABA therapists, SLPs, OTs, and aides. This community is so great that my next blog will be all about them!  For the moment, I want to focus on the kids!

The last day of the workshop was on Monday, January 19, Martin Luther King Jr Day. So, of course, I had to do a lesson on MLK. Rather than some of the obvious choices of lessons on Martin Luther King, Jr., I decided to do a quote lesson. Quote lessons are easy to put together – pull up some quotes that fit your subject matter, lead with a few warm up questions (In this case I had the kids spell Martin Luther King; asked warm up questions about his profession; his leadership role; and cause.)  Then, choose from the quotes, read it to the kids and let them fly!  Quote lessons work best with fairly fluent kids. However, if you wanted to use this lesson with a student who is at the word level, you could modify by asking questions instead of eliciting open responses.

This lesson features the responses of Graciela, John, Reece, and Charles who all attended the last Atlanta workshop in November. Since then, they have been hard at work developing their skills with their families. Here are the words of these civil rights leaders from Atlanta!

“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?'”
THIS MEANS THAT WE SHOULD BE THINKING OF HOW WE CAN BE OF SERVICE TO OTHERS ~Charles

LIVING FULLY DOES NOT MEAN LIVING FOR YOURSELF.  IT MEANS LIVING A LIFE OF SERVICE ~Graciela

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
TO REMAIN SILENT ON ISSUES THAT MATTER IS THE GREATEST COWARDICE! ~Reece

Reece 2

As soon as Reece could communicate through RPM, he has consistently expressed a desire to “help other kids like me”.

“Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.”
BELIEF SHOULD NOT REQUIRE PROOF! ~Charles

BELIEVE IN THINGS THAT YOU CANT SEE AND IT MAY HAPPEN ~John

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”
THIS IS KING’S FINEST WORDS.  NO ONE SHOULD BE JUDGED BY ANYTHING OTHER THAN THEIR MORAL CHARACTER AND VALUES. ~Charles

Charles, whom I have nicknamed, "The Cool", and his Mom show their skills on the boards! Two star pupils!

Charles, whom I have nicknamed, “The Cool”, and his Mom show their skills on the boards! Two star pupils!

“Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into friend.”
LOVE IS ALWAYS THE MOST EFFECTIVE WAY TO COMBAT HATE ~Graciela

LOVE IS SUCH A POWERFUL FORCE.  IT CAN CONQUER MANY THINGS INCLUDING HATE. YOU CAN FIGHT MANY WARS MORE EFFECTIVELY WITH LOVE RATHER THAN HATE AND WEAPONS. ~Reece

“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”
ONLY WHEN REALLY HAVING FULLY SEEN A PERSON CHALLENGED DO YOU KNOW WHAT THEY ARE MADE OF ~Graciela

Graciela, a seasoned RPMer just starting on the keyboard is making sure her parents are checking out her work!

Graciela, a seasoned RPMer just starting on the keyboard is making sure her parents are checking out her work!

“The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education.”
EDUCATION SHOULD EMBRACE THEIR DIFFERENT LEARNERS AND EXPECT THAT EACH ARE EACH CAPABLE OF LEARNING. THIS PHILOSOPHY MUST BE ACCEPTED IF AUTISTICS HAVE ANY CHANCE FOR AN EDUCATION. ~Reece

I BELIEVE THAT SPECIAL EDUCATORS NEED TO RAISE THEIR STANDARDS AND EXPECTATIONS FOR AUTISTICS. INVEST IN OUR EDUCATION AND YOU MAY BE SURPRISED AT THE RESULTS. ~Charles

EDUCATION IS MORE THAN BOOKS.  IT IS REALLY ABOUT BUILDING INTELLIGENT RESPONSIBLE CITIZENS ~John

“I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.”
ALWAYS CHOOSE LOVE OVER HATE. ALWAYS CHOOSE TRUTH OVER DECEPTION. ~John

John is making sure I am accurately writing down all of his words!

John is pure happiness contained in a body. Here, he holds my hand as he make sure that I am accurately writing down all of his words!

“The time is always right to do what is right.”
RIGHT ACTION DEFY A TIME TABLE ~Graciela

“We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.”
I THINK DISAPPOINTMENT IS AN INEVITABLE PART OF LIFE.  HOWEVER IT IS NO MATCH FOR THE POWER OF HOPE! ~Charles

ACTING DISAPPOINTED WILL GET YOU NOWHERE.  HOPE WILL INSTANTLY MAKE YOU FEEL BETTER ~John

What a fantastic group of kids, families and community! Workshops are always a crazy, whirlwind of back-to-back sessions but with such an incredible community and their non-stop support, the days flew by!  How can I help but be inspired by their powerful words? What will these civil rights minded students bring to our country’s future? And, can any workshop have a better ending than this?

Reece gives the greatest bear hugs EVER!

Reece gives the greatest bear hugs EVER!

Thank you Graciela, John, Charles and Reece for sharing your beautiful thoughts and words! Thank you Atlanta for pulling together to form a strong network of learning and support!  Thank you Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. for your leadership in racial equality. These four leaders for neurodiverse equality, who are in league with many other young spellers and the growing global autism community who KNOW that non-speaking does not equal non-thinking, are creating a ripple effect of change that goes far beyond autism awareness to true equality for ALL!  Like my kids, I have infinite hope. Buckle up, we are in for quite a ride! ~Elizabeth

 

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4 thoughts on “We have a dream… celebrating MLK weekend in Atlanta

  1. Elizabeth, Thank you for this heart warming and, yes, instructive blog. The kids are simply great and so are you. So sorry for the hiatus in writing RPM but other commitments took any available time. Will get back to it. All insight into Luke’s mind and ability is sheer joy. Thank you again for making this possible for the Schneider family. Eleanor

  2. Hello Elizabeth!

    Thanks for your blog post. These kids are inspiring! I am new to the Atlanta area and looking to get plugged in with the non-speaking community. I am a special educator and very passionate about helping people in the non-speaking community find their voice through typing. Do you know of any organizations, groups, or people that I can connect with in the non-speaking Atlanta community?

    Thanks for your help and keep up the great work!

    Jessica

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